Still another shocking incident of Jew hatred took place today. Are you still shocked?
I don’t know the Chabad rabbi who was stabbed in Boston, but I do know that the only reason that he was attacked is that he is visibly Jewish.
We are not the only minority to have to cope with that status. It’s normal for people to be wary of strangers, to dehumanize them and relegate them to a place called Less. It’s also normal to want to get out of that place and to claw your way up to the top. This combination of conflicting will can easily be toxic. This is a reality that has touched the lives of both Jews and Blacks.
The BLM movement is dealing with a problem that is, nonetheless, very different than anti- Semitism. People treat Blacks as perennial strangers in a society that others engineered, strangers who have been exploited and who have been robbed of the natural connection to their roots, leaving them with no place, either in their original society or in the one that they have helped build. The resulting feelings have led to what you see today wherever you look.
The way out isn’t hard to see, either.
When you look at President Obama, you see a winner. He succeeded in using what the society has to offer (which is a great deal in the world’s wealthiest and most powerful country) and making it to the top. This meant learning the culture, getting a real education, and developing an ethos that echoes the voice of America, a place in which for him (and for so many) being Black or White is not the ultimate statement of Self. In this sense, he is far more of a WASP than I am.
This method doesn’t work for Jews.
We. too. are perennial strangers. The vast majority of Jews can’t trace their family’s presence in America earlier than to the 1850s, way after the first slave ship entered American waters. We played by the rules, learned the language, culture, loved the ethos and gave voice to the American dream via our disproportionate pence in the media, films, and literature.
We are hated.
We are hated for our successes and despised for our winning the game. We are perceived as separate, “other” and clannish, while the same time being “pushy” in integrating to the society in which we live.
The perpetrator of today’s stabbing no doubt hated the rabbi (whom he probably didn’t know) for the confused reasoning that inevitably accompanies anti-Semitism.
Is there a way out?
I think I have one, if you can excuse the arrogance that saying these words reflects.
The Torah is the basic system from which every society that has chosen to make moral living its ethos. Wherever Jews have lived, the assumption is that human life is precious, property belongs to its owner, a family means a mother and father who are loyal to each other and have children who know who their parents are, society with courts that are there to mete out justice to the best of their ability, that recognize that G-d is the acknowledged source of all reality; He may not be cursed. They know that animals experience pain and may not be randomly tortured for no reason and, most significantly, there is awareness of accounting for who you are at the end of the day.
Something tragic happened in America.
Anti-Semitism is a symptom of not only hating Jews, but rejecting all of the above.
The only answer is to build wherever you see destruction. To respond with morality wherever you see moral chaos. To remember that you once stood before Hashem on Mount Sinai, and your light will go on shining, regardless of all the overt and covert efforts to put it out.
And for all of us
In Miami and Meron
In Paris and in Gaza
You are there
If you know it, or if you don’t
With the part of you
That stood at Mount Sinai
And still wants to be
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